Two rebel Congress MLAs sent their resignations to Karnataka Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar on Monday. They were part of the group of legislators linked to a possible defection to the BJP last year due to disgruntlement over denial of ministerial berths.
Gokak MLA Ramesh Jharkiholi and Vijayanagar legislator Anand Singh did not meet the Speaker as mandated, but sent in their resignations to the Speaker’s office.
Jharkiholi stated in his letter that he was resigning of his own volition. Singh met Governor Vajubhai Vala and informed him about the resignation letter he has sent to the Speaker. In the letter, he stated that he would personally hand over the resignation if “required for technical reasons’’.
Under the anti-defection law, legislators are required to submit resignations personally to the Speaker so that the Speaker can ascertain that they are resigning on their own.
Singh said he was quitting over a decision of the Congress-JDS government to grant 3,667 acres in Ballari to steel major JSW Steel at a throwaway price. The MLA, who the CBI has accused of looting iron ore in Ballari region when he was associated with the BJP and its mining baron G Janardhan Reddy, said he cannot continue as an MLA when people in Ballari are facing “injustice”. Singh was injured in January in a brawl with fellow Congress MLA J N Ganesh.
Singh and Jharkiholi were part of the group of about nine legislators from the Congress-JDS government linked to a possible defection to the BJP. The BJP, which fell eight short of a simple majority after the 2018 Assembly elections, has been allegedly wooing the legislators in a bid to reduce the ruling coalition to a minority.
The resignation of Jharkiholi and Singh does not immediately impact the continuance of the coalition government. Congress leaders are, however, concerned that BJP, emboldened by its victory in the Lok Sabha polls, may push harder to topple the coalition.
The BJP currently has 105 MLAs in the 224-member Assembly and the ruling coalition has 117 MLAs — including two Independents and a BSP MLA. The BJP would have to woo at least 13 more coalition MLAs to reduce the government to a minority.
In a social media post, CM H D Kumaraswamy said, “The efforts of the BJP to destabilise the government is a relentless daydream.’’
State BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa claimed that 20 coalition MLAs are unhappy with the chief minister. “I have never said we will topple the government. We will wait and see what happens. There are around 20 dissatisfied MLAs. We will see what decision they take. We are not sanyasis and we will move if the government loses its majority,’’ Yeddyurappa said. “We do not want dissolution of this Assembly. We will form a government if the coalition fails,’’ he said.
Sources said the BJP central leadership, which was earlier reluctant to exert too much force to topple the government, has now given a go-ahead to the local leadership to tactically handle the issue.